Monday, March 11, 2013

Next Steps

Over the Weekend:  Well we certainly had our share of things to choose from over the weekend! St. Patrick's Day Parade, Monster Trucks, 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament at school (thank you Save Modified Sports!), warmer weather, and a fundraiser for a school family. A HUGE congratulations goes out to our cheerleaders who won the Western New York State Large School Division Championship.
Budget Presentation: Thank you to all who were able to attend our first budget presentation last week. If you were unable to attend, you can view the presentation by clicking here. I will be presenting the budget a few more times before the actual budget vote on May 21, but if you have questions in the meantime please feel free to e-mail me at or 315-487-4682.  Thank you for your continued support and it felt good to finally be able to present a more positive spending plan again!

A Musical Month: This is "Music in our Schools Month", and if my count is correct, we have eleven concerts over an eighteen day period.  Thank you to Mr. Davern and all of his staff who have created an environment where parents can come together and enjoy the talents of their children. Our "concert calendar" can be found on our website from the home page online events calendar, and if you missed a concert and would like to watch it, just subscribe (for free) to  Most of our shows can be found there.

Communication Makes a Difference in Athletics: My boys are old enough now where I can probably tell this story without them being upset.  A long time ago when they were little, and I was coaching their minor league baseball team, I was standing in the dug out, and had a typical Sports Center moment; bottom of the 7th (the last inning), two runners on, two out, and we were winning by one run. My younger son was on the mound facing an older player who had fouled two balls off and was waiting to crush one. Time froze. I couldn't hear anything because of the adrenaline running through my veins. Everything got quiet. My son wound up and pitched a "heater" right down the middle. The batter took a huge swing and I heard "STRIKE THREE" come from the umpire. Game over! My son was the winning pitcher, got the game ball, and we piled in the car and headed home (stopping for ice cream first of course).

We got out of the car at our house, he went and took a shower and then played video games. He didn't say much. I, however, was still shaking from the win. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; that game and win was more important to me than it was for him, and that was wrong. I realized that for years I had been putting a ton of pressure on him to the point where a huge win didn't mean much.  He was just happy that the game was over. Not good and completely my fault.

I stopped coaching my kids after that season, and I have stayed away from coaching ever since. That was tough. I had coached all kinds of sports in my younger years from T-Ball right up through Varsity Boys Basketball with almost everything in-between. My teams were successful. "I" really enjoyed that time.

I still get pangs sitting in the stands watching my children play sports today. Should they be playing more? Less? Are they in the right position?  Are the right people out there with them?  Is the coach not playing, or playing my kids because I am the Superintendent?  I am sure the coaches love me. This is about the point when my wife kicks me and tells me to knock it off. She is right. This is their time. I had my chance and my time and that was long ago. They have been happier children both on the court, field, and at home since I realized that keeping my big trap shut makes them relax and actually perform better.

Why did I take all of this space to write about my experiences?  My job is to create an environment for our students that is safe and creative so that our professionals can bring out the best in them, and they in turn can bring out the best in themselves. Mike Burns, our Athletic Director, and I have taken the past two years to evaluate our athletics program. We are a large, competitive, AA program. We have been fortunate to find success in many of our programs, and many of our student athletes have had collegiate doors opened by their experiences playing high school sports at West Genesee. Some haven't but still talk about being a part of the team long after they graduate.

Athletics can be intense from tryouts right through the end of the season. The philosophy that I have always used as a Superintendent is; at the Varsity level we play to win and that means using student athletes that will help us to achieve our goals no matter who they are or what grade they are in. That can be tough. Starters one year can be subs the next. Our players, coaches, and parents feel this pressure at times and sometimes emotions boil over (been there, done that, have the T-shirt). Instead of ignoring this part of athletics, like most schools do, we want to find a way to remain as competitive as always while taking some of the edge off. We feel that communication plays a huge role in this process. Our Junior Varsity, Freshman, and Modified Sports are a little less stressful on our athletes, coaches,and parents because everyone gets an opportunity to participate.

Over the course of this summer, we are going to produce a new and improved Athletics Handbook. The handbook will contain new guidelines for our coaches, parents, athletes, and fans. This will help us to continue the positive experiences that we have had, but will also create better guidance for expectations, communication, playing time, behavior, chain of command, and accountability, for all. Misunderstandings and poor communication create problems for all, which is the last thing we need or want. We are West Genesee. At the end of the day we want the coaches to be able to coach; the players to play; and the fans to be able to cheer and have fun. We are committed to this process and will keep you posted as we create "Athletics 2.0" at West Genesee.

Here's to warmer weather, springing forward, and green grass! Have a great week!